Capital Punishment and Economics

Whether you’re for or against the death pentalty, everyone agrees that to execute a prisoner is much more expensive than life imprisonment.  Life imprisonment is about $800,000 per person.  To execute, it costs $2.3 million.  So executing a prisoner is about a 200% increase in costs.

An article at CNN here shows that most states are reconsidering the death penalty because it’s just too much of a burden to the taxpayers.  The economy is going down nationally so states are finding creative ways to save money.  From the article:

“Because of the downturn in the national economy, we are facing one of the largest budget deficits in our history,” state Sen. Carolyn McGinn, a Republican, said in an opinion piece posted on Friday. “What is certain is we are all going to have to look at new and creative ways to fund state and community programs and services.”

The state would save more than $500,000 per case by not seeking the death penalty, McGinn wrote, money that could be used for “prevention programs, community corrections and other programs to decrease future crimes against society.”

So this isn’t a moral argument against the death penalty, but rather an economic one.  Economically speaking, I think it makes sense.

About shaunmiller

I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
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3 Responses to Capital Punishment and Economics

  1. thekillerj says:

    2.3 million dollars to kill someone? I’ll choke somebody for free! WTF man?
    I’m all about money being allocated to prevention programs, but SOME people are worth the money.

  2. shaunmiller says:

    It’s expensive because of appeals and such. So either get rid of the death penalty (which would lessen the appeals), or else change the structure of the Constitution so that appeals won’t be allowed. It seems that the former is easier.

    As for the money, I think the governors aren’t really concerned about using that money for prevention programs, I think they just want to use the money on something else. After all, taxes are taxes and if you had to choose between executing some guy or spending that money on something else, chances are that if you can’t get the money somewhere else, you’ll probably hold off on executing that guy.

  3. Pingback: What I’ve Learned this Past Year — 2009 Edition « Shaun Miller’s Weblog

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